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WEST PAPUA: Activist freed from custody after international pressure


KNPB’s Steven Itlay … arrested then set free. Image: Free West Papua Campaign

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Item: 8607

JAYAPURA (Pacific Media Watch): The West Papua National Committee's [KNPB] Timika chairman, Steven Itlay, has been released from prison after being arrested by the Indonesian police yesterday.

The news site KNPB has reported that Indonesian police shot 10 bullets into the campaign's office in what seemed to be an attempt to provoke a fight in order to arrest activists inside.

KNPB reported that when West Papuan activists asked the police why Itlay was being arrested, they told them: "Steven Itlay is a suspected Free West Papua activist".

The Free West Papua Campaign said Itlay's relatively speedy release was due to international pressure being placed on the police.

Just hours earlier, the campaign had published the phone number of the head of the Indonesian police in Jayapura on its Facebook page. It is understood that activists from all over the world phoned the number to call for Itlay's release.

In a statement issued yesterday, the campaign said: "We would like to thank you all with all our hearts for all your incredible support for Mr Itlay and the people of West Papua, especially after the international plea for his release was made earlier today. Following his release, Steven also asked us to thank you all for the support of the suffering people of West Papua".

Meanwhile, Papuans Behind Bars has released its April 2014 report, which details 12 incidents of torture of West Papuans in custody last month.

In one case, two West Papuans were "stabbed and slashed" by Indonesian police for objecting to police brutality against a third person, while "another seven men were tortured on arrest with electric stun batons", the report says.

On April 2, the international day of protests for a Free West Papua, Indonesian police tortured two students at the campus of Cenderawasih University in Jayapura.

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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